February 13, 2007
When one talks about E-governance for conservation, most of us dismiss the idea as one whose time has not come.
But an article I read at the following link called
the 100 dollar un-pc
reassures me that the day is not far when we can achieve that.
The article talks about the revolutionary product Nova net tv which is a PC costing less than Rs 5000/-
Rajesh Jain, co-founder of Novatium
says that in India’s PC market there are 10 million relatively wealthy Indians at the "top of the pyramid" who buy computers just like consumers in developed countries. There are an additional 30 million urban Indians at the "middle of the pyramid" and
100 million very poor Indians at the "bottom of the pyramid." "What we are saying is how can you dramatically bring down the entry levels for computing in this country and make it accessible to the middle of the pyramid?" he says.
Novatium’s approach has been to completely redesign the computer, slashing costs while keeping the form and functions typical
of a top-end PC. Once it’s set up, it doesn’t look all that different from a conventional PC—the basic box plus a keyboard and monitor. It installs and operates as simply as a television—you plug it in and switch it on. And the money doesn’t come from government
budgets or philanthropic largesse, but from Jain’s profit-oriented business model.
The concept owner and cofounder Prof. Jhunjhunwala and researchers at IIT came up with a plan that builds on the "thin client" concept
that has been popular in the West for years, but only for business applications. It uses a cheap microprocessor and removes the hard disk, CD/DVD drive and other costly and problem-prone components, leaving the keyboard, screen and USB port. Easier to maintain
than regular PCs, sales of thin-client PCs to businesses are growing at about 20 percent a year in developed nations, even as sales of regular PCs flatten. Instead of working backward from the PC, Jhunjhunwala pioneered a new architecture from the ground up,
replacing the expensive microprocessor with the guts of a mobile phone—thus tapping a supercompetitive industry with enormous economies of scale. In 2003, Jain and Jhunjhunwala cofounded Novatium, along with Analog Devices Chairman Ray Stata, with the aim
of taking thin-client computers into the home market.
Read the full article which appeared in News Week International at
February 11, 2007
Documentary film making in India has always been a challenging task.
Commissioned projects end up in the can after being screened to a select audience.
The public do not get a chance to see them as the screening opportunities are limited.
But “Vikalp” in Mumbai and traveling film festivals of Centre for Media Studies, New Delhi, and “film vans” in Kerala and Bengal are changing all that.
If you are an independent producer who spend hard earned money in making films one finds the investment does not come back and making more films remains a dream.
But there is hope here too. Production costs and Camera costs are coming down for one. Outlets for distribution like youtube.com and google videos offer a free platform to reach your videos to a wider audience. Video CDs and DVDs
are a possible distribution method too.
Read an interesting take on the subject at the following link
Making business sense of documentary filmmaking
February 07, 2007
HIGHLIGHTNING TOURISM’S ROLE IN CLIMATE RESPONSE
"There is now
unequivocal proof from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
and the Stern report that climate challenge is real and that we must
all play our part in its resolution. Tourism is an important sector
of the global economy and a vital link in human communications,
cultural interface and development. Like other key sectors, we play a
part in the problem and we have to be responsive and responsible as
temperatures, sea levels and other climactic conditions evolve. We
will work even more closely with UNEP and other sister agencies like
the International Civil Aviation Organization, as well as the private
sector, in exploring new patterns of consumption and conservation, as
well as fast track strategies for adaptation", Mr. Frangialli, UNWTO Secretary-General, said.
There will be two overriding considerations for UNWTO, the Secretary-
General added. "First, promoting responsible growth of tourism to
advance global trade, as well as strengthening the links between
people and cultures which foster mutual understanding. This will mean
innovative adaptation across the sector using all the tools and
technologies as they become available. Second, ensuring that tourism
remains a key tool to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and
helping poor nations lift themselves out of the poverty trap.
represents 40% of services exports and the world’s poorest countries
have comparative advantage in this area which must be encouraged as a
part of responsible climate change strategies."
UNWTO and UNEP have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in a
number of ways – most immediately, UNWTO will join the billion tree
planting campaign of UNEP and the environment agency will strengthen
its support for UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism to upbeat
the sustainability and climate response components. The organizations
will collaborate on the Tourism Climate Change Summits.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - BillionTree Campaign
February 06, 2007
IPCC Report on Global Warming
The most authoritative scientific report on climate change says with
90% certainty that the burning of fossil fuels and other human
activities are driving climate change.
The report, from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) says the rise in global temperatures could be as high as 6.4°C
by 2100. The report also predicts sea level rises and increases in hurricanes.
The new IPCC report is the work of 3750 climate experts, who have
spent six years reviewing all the available climate research. It was
released in Paris, France, on Friday.
Considering the human role in causing climate change, the IPCC report is damning: "The understanding of [human] influences
on climate has improved since the  report, leading to a very high confidence that human activities" are responsible for most of the warming seen since 1950, says the report’s summary for policymakers. “Very high confidence” is described as “at least
a 9 out of 10 chance of being correct”.
Before the industrial revolution, human greenhouse gas emissions were small, and the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas – was about 280 parts per million (ppm).
Thanks largely to the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use, such as agricultural exploitation and deforestation, the atmospheric
concentration of carbon dioxide reached 379 ppm in 2005
Read the full story here:
February 04, 2007
A picture story sent in by a friend was so moving I thought we must have a blog topic exclusively for "anthromorphism". Anthropomorphism, also called personification, is the attribution of human characteristics and qualities to nonhuman beings.
Scientists at one time used to look down upon such stories-as figments of human imagination. But as human beings are observing and flming more deeply into the private lives of animals, realisation is slowly dawning that we were probably too egoistic to acknowledge
that animals have intelligence and emotions!
Read the story at this link
February 01, 2007
I travelled to the lesser known Daroji Bear Sanctuary a few days back. with atleast 22 sightings of the Sloth bears, the trip was very succesful.
View Trip report
January 31, 2007
Maharashtra all set to induct women foresters
CHANDRAPUR: For 21-year-old Yogita Madavi, the steep climb of Tipagarh hills in the naxal-hit Gadchiroli last month was no mean feat. Physically challenged, this tribal girl wanted to prove a point. "My friends used to taunt by calling me a langdi. Every
time they did so, I got more determined to prove my mettle some day. And I think I’ve done it," she says.
Yogita is one of the 11 successful girls who were recruited by the Maharashtra Forest Department last April after a written and physical test. She and her co-mates literally walked into what was hitherto a male bastion. "We walked 16 km in four hours on
the trot to pass the physical test. All of us here passed the test at ease," the gutsy recruit says. “This is the first batch of women foresters in Maharashtra. And it’s doing very well,” said S P Wadaskar, principal of Rangers Training College. Though a
few other states have already recruited women cadres before, this is the first time in Maharashtra, he said. After a two-month training, the 11 women foresters would join work, the principal said.
Their responsibilities include everything from joint forest management to catching poachers and safeguarding wildlife. They have to lead separate teams of guards to monitor the depleting jungle wealth.
Three of the 11 female recruits are married. Motivated by their husbands, all of them decided to join the department as foresters post-marriage. "It was my husband who motivated me to go for the test," said Seema Sherki nee Gore.
Last year, the forest department received 47,000 applications, including 7,000-odd from female aspirants for 36 vacant posts. Of them, 36,000 got short-listed for the preliminary examination.
About 520 got through for the mains, and finally only 33, including 11 women were selected, Wadaskar said. Amrapali Khobragade, one of the women recruits, says: "We are no less than men. And we are extremely anxious to prove that women can work even harder
than men. This was, perhaps, the only field without women. There is no field left now where women haven’t countered risks and challenges successfully."
Source: DNA, January 21, 2007
January 31, 2007
Sustainable management of natural resources at grass roots-Foundation for Ecological Security
Many of the human activities that modify or destroy natural ecosystems cause deterioration of ecological services whose value, in the long run, far outweigh the short term economic benefits that human society seeks to gain. As ecosystems remain at great
jeopardy so do the livelihoods and continued well being of communities everywhere. Poor communities are particularly vulnerable since they rely more on natural resources for subsistence and income and are less likely to share in property rights that give them
legal control over these resources.
In this context, FES promotes the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, forests and water in particular, through local self governance institutions.The crux of their efforts lie in locating forests and other natural resources within
the prevailing economic, social and ecological demands at the level of villages and village conglomerates and in intertwining principles of conservation and local self governance for the safeguard of the natural surroundings and improvement in the living conditions
of the poor.
They aim to integrate forests in the overall land use planning by highlighting the critical role that forests play in terms of sustaining agriculture, animal husbandry and rural livelihoods in general, and also position community based forest governance
in the larger unfolding of decentralisation of governance in India.
January 30, 2007
An amazing treetop walk through the dense forests of Naduvathumoozhy, near Konni, is likely to become a reality soon. And God’s Own Country will be able to offer tourists one more major attraction.
"The idea is to set up the facility at Naduvathumoozhy, on the banks of the Achencoil river, near Konni, in cooperation with the Forest Department and the Tourism Department,’’ District Collector of Pathanamthitta Ashok Kumar Singh, who is the chairman of
the District Tourism Promotion Council, told The Hindu .
Mr. Singh, a former Additional Director of Tourism, said the treetop walk would be similar to those in Australia and many southeast African countries.
He said the project was part of the council’s efforts to provide a range of recreational amenities to visitors with different interests and varying levels of trekking and hiking experience. The proposed facility would be the first of its kind in the whole
country, he said. What made the project unique was its structure. The walkway would be made of light-weight steel trusses built on steel pylons to form a secure ramp, he said.
"The walkway can be erected, linking giant trees in the forests. A boardwalk meandering through the thick forests and that too at a height of 50 to 60 metres will be really amazing to the visitors.’’
The length of the walkway can be from 1 to 1.5 km. The visitors can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the forest canopy from the hanging walkway. It will be a peaceful experience with quiet spots to sit and reflect on the special nature of the forest. The walk
under the canopy of thousands of stars will provide the opportunity to see nocturnal wild creatures.
Mr. Singh said the council’s proposal was to protect native flora and fauna, while allowing the public access to certain areas of the reserve forests for recreation. The exact location of the project would be chosen with much care, ensuring that no tree
felling was required, he said.
He said it was better if the Forest Department ran the proposed eco-tourism project funded by the Tourism Department. He had already moved the proposal to the Government.
SOURCE : The Hindu, Tuesday, January 30, 2007
January 30, 2007
The number of sick birds, both wild and domesticated, continues to mount at the Sukhna lake in Chandigarh, with the UT wildlife department rescuing a large egret and a domesticated goose on Monday. While the egret showed signs of weak legs and was unable
to fly, the goose was on the verge of collapse displaying sign of shivering and a drooping neck.
With Monday’s rescue operation, the number of sick domesticated geese which live near the Lake Club has gone up to four. Twelve migratory wild birds have died since January 13 out of which the UT Wildlife department has managed to recover only nine, with two
Spotbill ducks and a likely wood sandpiper going missing within hours of their discovery in the Sukhna marshes on January 13.
Along with the rescue operations, a team of expert bird trappers of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) netted a Greylag goose, a Coot and a Northern Shovellor for blood sampling. The samples from a Ruddy Shelduck (Brahminny duck) trapped on Monday by
Ali Hussain have been sent to the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratary at Jalandhar.
BNHS veterinarian Dr Debojit Das, who examined the sick geese, said, "The birds were displaying symptoms of a nervine disorder that is common to avian diseases like botulisim and cholera. This means the birds’ functioning is affected by a nervous disorder that
reveals itself in symptoms like it going in circles or trying to look skywards.
Water pollution in Sukhna could be a possible cause. Dead storage level and pollution level in the Lake has been rising.
UT Wildlife Department might have acted fast in the matter concerning the death of migratory birds, but it is yet to explore the role of Sukhna’s water in the rising mortality of birds. Water quality of the Lake, experts in water conservation area say, might
have solutions to the mystery behind the death and sickness among the flocking birds. Very often, fall in the levels of dissolved oxygen in water has been found to cause bird mortality.
In case of Sukhna, therefore, testing of water samples is an absolute necessity. Over the past, pollution levels in the Lake have raised rapidly on account of several reasons, main being the rise in dead storage level of the Lake. Dead storage level is the
level below which water cannot be drained out of the Lake. Water present below this level is always highly polluted because it gets saturated with toxic elements and gets devoid of dissolved oxygen present in water.
The same might be true in case of Sukhna Lake where dead storage level currently stands at elevation -- EL 1151 feet. There was a time when the level was 1148 feet, but the same has risen over the past due to increase in water level of the Lake by three
feet. Naturally, more and more water under the dead storage level would have become concentrated, making it unhealthy for aquatic life.
Another reason why Sukhna’s water has become highly polluted is that the Lake’s spill away gates were last opened in the monsoon season of 2005. That is more than one and a half years earlier. During 2006, there was no escape of water from the Lake at all.
This has led to increased level of toxicity in the water and this toxicity, in turn, could cause sickness and death among birds, unless detected otherwise.
Admitting to the possibility of water pollution behind the death of birds, Mr G.S. Dhillon, water resources expert, said a similar problem had once arisen in Harike Lake. "In certain pockets of the Lake, migratory birds were found dying without apparent
symptoms. We sampled the waters from those pockets and sent them to Irrigation and Power Research Institute at Amritsar for testing. We found that water was so toxic and so deprived of oxygen that no aquatic or any other form of life could exist. For years,
decaying organic matter had caused the absence of dissolved oxygen in water, leading to death of birds. Finally, water had to be pumped out of the Lake and fresh water introduced."
The same institute can be asked to conduct water sample testing of Sukhna.
SOURCE : The Tribune, Monday, January 29, 2007 and Times of India, Tuesday, January 30, 2007